I didn’t go into teaching because it was easy. Some days, the kids are angels and you get through four sections of talking about sentence fragments and run-on sentences and the theme of Man Vs. Nature and Man Vs. Self in Gary Paulson’s Hatchet without a hitch, and other days one twelve year old secretly gathers all the dead bugs in the windowsill by his desk and throws them on the head of another twelve year old and your class descends into several circles of Dante’s Inferno until you get things under control. This is why I took up yoga.
I can expound upon the health benefits of yoga and quietly point out that I haven’t had an ear infection since last May, which is when I first took up yoga, but the main thing is this: yoga chills me the hell out. It chills me out in a healthy way, especially since my other tried-and-true stress reliever (drinking gin while playing Civilization) tends to be antisocial and a shade megalomaniac (though screaming “SUCK A D, NAPOLEON! It’s 850 AD, you’re still using horsemen, while MY WORDS ARE BACKED BY NUCLEAR WEAPONS!!” with a buzz on is the true American dream). Yoga gets me out of the house. Yoga makes me move my body and work through my stress and insecurities in a healthy way. And much like middle school itself, everyone is too busy looking at themselves to worry about what fool thing I am doing.
And sure, I stick out a little bit. We can pretend there isn’t a type people have in mind when you say the word “yoga class,” and someone who looks like me is not that type. But even in classes where all the girls look like supermodels and all the boys look like Adonises, there is one fundamental truth: All bodies stink. For example, tonight, in class, it was evidently clear – as it often becomes very rapidly and evidently clear in a packed and humidified room set at 105°- that someone hadn’t really had a chance to freshen up their antiperspirant between work and the studio. Through a few clever self-checks during downdog, I was able to eliminate myself as a suspect. And once I really got moving, I had other things to think about besides the fact that the room smelled like a crowded computer lab full of seventh grade boys (who maybe are wearing the same school uniform shirts too many days in a row and need a talk with the gym teacher about their post-gym shower methods? I’m just saying). Plus, I like the teacher on Mondays because she picks good music. I can ignore a little potent B.O. and the occasional, teeny-tiny squeaky-fart that, yes, also happens when you have a room full of young men and women who perhaps eat more cruiciferous vegetables than they really need to and then spend an hour to 90 minutes twisting their internal organs as they try to perfect a prayer-twist. Even in a moment of weakness, I may admit to having pooted one out ONE TIME during core work MONTHS AGO, when the teacher cranked up some Prince and I’d had a big salad for lunch. People stink. People fart. Even the exceptionally pretty.
Of course, nothing prepared me for what happened during corpse pose today. Just as the teacher was telling us to relax, and I was feeling that great comedown from a good workout, when I’ve put my whole body into it and my mind can only really formulate the words “Yes” over and over again until my internal monologue sounds like the last lines of a Joyce novel, and I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, everything in my life is going to work out for the best, the young man sitting next to me let out a great, floor-rattling fart. You could have mistaken it for a truck passing by on the street below, but it was definitely human, and organic, and loud, and it moved the floor beneath us, and then came the smell. He said nothing, I said nothing, the girl on the other side of him said nothing. I closed my eyes and bit my lower-lip and tried not to giggle — not then, not when the teacher came by, as she does at the end of every class, to fan us with a towel and fanned him just a few seconds longer than normal, not when we sat up and recognized the teacher in all of us and bowed with a Namaste, not when I went to the locker room. Not until I was safely in my car and I could laugh, and laugh, and laugh some more, until tears and sweat commingled and stung my eyes and I had to pull out my towel and wipe my face again.